Thursday, October 21, 2010

Learning to Obey...AND DANCE AND SING!

Through you my heart screams
I am free
Yes, I am free


While I was in Romania, my team leaders encouraged both I and my teammates destroy our comfort zone boundaries and obey when the Lord tugged on our hearts, whispering in our ear crazy, radical and possibly awkward things. This sometimes looked like speaking in churches with only a ten minute notice, preaching the gospel, striking up conversations with people that could hardly understand me, etc. etc. It was intimidating, but not impossible, and I have many incredible memories because I listened (and then some that aren't so incredible). But then one of my leaders in particular, Jessie, began encouraging me in one specific way: To find freedom in worshiping my Maker.
Oh God! I literally cringe as I type that. When I think "freedom in worship" I picture crazed people--so crazed, they're practically foaming at the mouths!--dancing around and shouting praise lyrics. Is this wrong and judgmental? Yes. Do I still think it? Absolutely. And what was my reaction when Jessie told me that I should express my worship "Um, ha! You're funny! Like that's going to happen. No thank you." And that was the end of it, done deal, I wasn't comfortable with it and I justified myself by claiming that it would be "distracting" for anyone around me. (Cop ouuuuuuut!) But I was determined and like I said, that was the last of it.

Or so I greatly wished.
And so--of course--it wasn't.
I found verses like Psalm 149:3-4 legitimately haunting me whenever I was in a worshipful atmosphere.

"Let them praise his name with dancing.
Let them make music to him with tambourines and lyres,
because the Lord takes pleasure in his people.
He crowns those who are oppressed with victory."

I tried to stifle the pressure I felt that if I wasn't out of my comfort zone and willing to worship my Savior in the way He led me, then I wasn't really worshiping at all. Unfortunately, I couldn't stifle it, but I sure as heck didn't act upon it.
Fast forward to October 24th (last night) and I'm at Coffee House. See, Coffee House is something that my friend's church does. It's just a night in which a bunch of people come, they put on a worship service of some form, and whoever wants to get up and perform a skit or Christian song (usually, it's original Christian rap), then they can. The whole focus is to provide a worshipful atmosphere in which there is complete freedom--and coffee, duh. You will always find me not on the stage, but in the mosh pit, front row, center, enjoying all the excitement from where I am. Now, during the night there's a time called Free-Style, and this is a time specifically set aside for by-the-fly performances; the band--if there's one there that night--gets up and messes around while brave, confident people with talent take turns jumping up and sharing what God is speaking to them, either by saying it, rapping it, dancing it, or singing it
Needless to say, I have never been one of those people.
And then last night happened, and it was free-style, and everyone that got up seemed to have the same theme of their message: The freedom that you can find in Christ. And it was as if, as I stood there, looking on, comfortably clapping my hands and dancing around, someone placed a song in my head that wouldn't stop playing, and it was that song by The Newsboys "I am Free" that talks about being free enough to run and dance and live, and live in God. It was definitely one of those, "Really God, really?" moments, and my comfort zone was getting a little shaken.
And then this questions, "Why don't you get up there and sing it?"
Why don't You shut up?! ME, get up there and SING, in front of about sixty people? That sentence seriously shouldn't exist. Me sing a song I don't even know the words to, only the chorus? Me sing on a stage? Me sing period? My comfort zone was screaming. I can't sing, I don't sing, especially not with a legit band playing behind me and people staring at me from the front. I found myself beginning to hope that someone else--someone with talent--would get the same idea and get up there for me. Someone got up...and rapped about being as free as a bird in Jesus. Someone else got up...and sang about letting go. REALLY? Come on!

"Why don't YOU get up there and sing it?"
But...but...but what if my voice messes up? Or I look like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler instant death? (I have the tendency to look like this when I'm in a state of terrorizedness.) Or I might stumble over the words? Or forget the words completely! Or what if everyone just stands there awkwardly and stops dancing and clapping and it's a fail? Or...or...why am I running out of excuses?!
"Just do it."
I acknowledged and saw the mass of impenetrable fear that was before me, took one step to the side, and walked right past it and onto the stage before I could think and puke. I was handed the mic. Everyone was gaping at me. ("Why are they all staring at me like owl-y things?") So I opened my mouth. First I was speaking, or yelling, either one. "Can anyone say, 'I am free to run!'"
Everyone said it, no, shouted it back.
"And I am free to DANCE!"
They echoed me.
"And I am free to live for you!"
"I am free to live for you!"
"I am free!"

I was singing! And I wasn't dead! If anything, I was more alive than I had been in months. The band was playing along with such energy, and the crowd just took over and all in all it was nearly deafening. I was so liberated, and I really, really liked it. What Jessie had planted in me over three months ago grew and grew until I was so uncomfortable with it that I had to overcome it. And because of it, I got to taste the ultimate freedom that we can only experience when we shake loose the chains of comfortable and fear from off around our hearts and throw our unwilling hands in the air or even whoop with shouts.
So I am learning to obey my Father and....DANCE AND TWIRL AND SING AND SCREAM!
And I really, really like it.

Through you the kingdom comes
Through you the battle's won
Through you I'm not afraid
Through you the price is paid
Through you there's victory
Because of you my heart sings
I am free
Yes, I am free


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I am Going to Thailand.

October 6th (Wednesday) 2010
7:54 a.m.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I'm going to Thailand.
I prayed that God would send me somewhere hard, to minister to orphans beaten and starving. I prayed that He would send me somewhere outside of the USA and for longer than a month. I prayed that wherever He called me, I would go;and I asked that He would just absolutely break my heart for the people He would be putting me among. I never guessed that my many, selfish prayers would take the form of Thailand.
I picture skinny Asian people with bowls filled with ramen noodles.
Thailand. I think of how Mrs. Chrissy told me that less than one percent of the ENTIRE country is Christian, so the few that ARE are ON FIRE. I imagine us dancing in through the streets, rejoicing in the freedom that Christ gives.
Thailand. I picture little girls dressed in red with numbers pinned to their dresses being sold for sex five to seven times a night--if not more. Some as young as three. Three. They've been brutally stripped of not only their childhood and freedom, but of their VERY NAME. There only a number among many in a dark brothel. Unspeakable horror stories smother their young hearts.
I'm going there? If I had known, would I have prayed so ardently for all those things? My courage--or lack of--doubts it. And now it quavers.
Because I am going to Thailand.

I am still so stunned that basically almost all my prayers on what I would like concerning where God sent me were answered. But really, my idiocy stuns me even more! I prayed that my Father would send me somewhere hard, where I could love on orphans beaten and deeply hurt? What...what is that?! I'm only fifteen, and in my arrogance I thought that God could drop me in some messy, uncomfortable situation that would completely wreck and break me, and I could handle that? Geez, I even asked for it.
I think I have a habit of believing more in my--suppose--abilities than is wise. But still. I asked for this, and the Lord has called me, what else can I do but answer and go? I want to go, I do. More than anything. Even though the thoughts of how unprepared I am and what I will see while I'm there scare me more than Criminal Minds--which is a lot. But the Lord is kind, and oh so gracious, and He is igniting within me a passion and longing to embrace and love the Thai people that was never there before. I've been doing a lot of research on the stats and needs of the country. Like I said earlier, less than ONE PERCENT is Christian, there are approximately 75,000 prostitutes at the moment there and everyday at least 45o,000 Thai men visits those beautiful, hurting prostitutes. I don't know about you, but I can't even process these numbers.
A little information: I will be staying with good friends of my family, the Espys, who are moving there in just a few weeks. I will be leaving near the end of May and returning home sometime in August. While I am there I will basically be the Espys slave (which, I'm cool with because they are A-W-E-S-O-M-E), and possibly helping with English classes and at an orphanage that has rescued human trafficking victims. The more I learn about Thailand, the more my Lord breaks my heart apart for these people and the more it becomes apparent that they as a whole just need to run into the Father's arms and except His redemption that redeems ourselves and our lives.
I'm excited, because I'm going to Thailand.

In case you're interested--which I hope you are--I strongly recommend these videos which will open your eyes to Thailand's needs even more: